Using the internet wisely

The internet may appear to hold limitless opportunities for artists to promote themselves to the world, but you should always treat it with caution. This month we take a look at how the internet can help you and what precautions you should take when using it.

The rules

If you want to maintain your reputation and further your career there are two rules to remember when using the internet? The first is that anything that goes onto the internet stays there. Private emails are also subject to this, since they remain on people’s computers and you never can tell where they might turn up. Avoid conflict on the internet exactly the same as you would in real life, and avoid using the real names of people and companies on internet forums.

The second rule is that you should never consider yourself anonymous, even if you hide behind a pseudonym. This warning may sound excessive, but if you believe you can get away with vituperative abuse because the internet is anonymous you will be in for a harsh surprise down the line.

Social Networks

Over the last few years the growth of social networks has been immense. There is an astonishing range of networks to choose from, including MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. These social networks are an excellent place to engage in conversations and to offer information about yourself and your work. You can also display your artwork to potential patrons once you establish a relationship.  It’s important to use social networks the right way, by listening to the web community and engaging in dialogue with people who share your interests.  Social networking allows you to be transparent; show your personality and artistic views.

Social networks are about connecting with people and not marketing or selling your products or services outright. They are also a great way to find people who are interested in your type of art, and if they find value will then share your work with their friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter.  Your approach to social networking should always be one-on-one, so that the dialogue and information can spread from one-to-many.

Internet forums

There is an overlap here since many social networks also have forums, but the advantage of forums dedicated to art is that the people on them tend to be real working artists rather than just people interested in art. Forums are therefore an excellent way of getting advice, inspiration and support from other artists.

Forums offer few promotional opportunities, but there is always the chance that you might get into discussion with people who can help your career. However, going onto discussion boards and promoting your own work is frowned upon, so your safest bet is to use them to discuss art.

Online galleries

There are many online galleries that offer you gallery space and promotion for a fixed fee. Free art galleries usually offer free gallery space but take a commission for processing the transaction. These are tempting and many artists claim success from them, but you should do a bit of research first. Find other artists exhibiting on the site, search for them via Google, and then email them to ask their advice.

The best use of online galleries is to see what sort of prices similar artists to you are selling for, but if you do decide to exhibit make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. There are opportunities here that should not be ignored, particularly if your work is of the type and price that it could be an impulse buy, but for the most part people will not pay serious money for art without seeing it first or knowing the artist’s reputation.

Ebay

Many artists offer work in auctions on ebay, though they rarely sell for high prices. However, if you have lots of old work lying around the studio that you have no intention of using, you should consider auctioning it off as a way to clear space and make a little money. Make sure, though, that you take into consideration how the art will be sent to the buyer.

Copyright on the internet

Copyright is almost non-existent on the internet, but this shouldn’t worry you. All publicity is good publicity, so if your work is displayed somewhere you did not give permission, accept it as a sign that people like your work. If you make sure to superimpose your name and website address on all your digital images then it can even be a good way of gaining interest.

Finally

The opportunities of the internet for artists are far greater than we can deal with here, but it should not be considered a substitute for real world promotion. Use it as a tool for meeting people, researching and gaining interest in your work, but don’t expect miracles.

Also See: Using “Twitter” to Promote Yourself

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